Iran talks: US senators try to rope in Iranian opponents of N-deal

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Mar 10, 2015 08:15 IST

US senate Republicans on Monday tried to rope in Iranian leaders in opposing the nuclear deal, eliciting a sharp rebuke from both President Barack Obama and Teheran.

In move described highly unusual 47 Republican senators told Iranian leaders, in an open letter, without congress’s ratification the deal would remain an executive agreement.

“The next president could revoke (it) … with the stroke of a pen,” they said, adding, “and future congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Last week House Republicans hosted Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint session of congress, during which he called the deal, which is still not done, “very bad”.

As one of leading importers of Iranian crude, and having to scale back purchases under US pressure, India will be closely watching the negotiations and the sideshows.

Response to the letter was sharp and immediate. President Obama accused Republicans of making “common cause” with Iranians hardliners opposed to the deal.

“It's an unusual coalition,” said the president, adding, “I think what we’re going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we can get a deal or not."

He has said he would rather have a bad deal than a bad one. And remade that point once again over the weekend, saying he would the US was willing to walk away from the talks.

Teheran has been equally sharp. Foreign minister Javad Zarif said the negotiation would be based on international obligations and commitments, “not based on the domestic US laws”.

Skepticism about the deal runs deep on either side of the aisle, primality on account of their mistrust of Iran, with even leading Democrats cautioning urging caution.

But the difference between the two parties is that Democrats want to see a deal on the table, at the conclusion of talks, before deciding to oppose, it and not ratify it.

Republicans, it seems, have already made up their minds.

What’s the deal about

# Iran’s nuclear program to be open to inspection
# Number of centrifuges limited for uranium enrichment
# Its stockpiles drastically reduced
# These restrictions will apply for 10 years, over which the sanctions — by the UN and, separately by the US will be eased up.
# Critics such as Netanyahu want no time limits on restrictions, and want Iran’s nuclear infrastructure completely dismantled.

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